The ship’s clock struck the hour
me on the needlepointed settee waiting
for the water to boil, orange spice tea
in delicate Chinese porcelain.
She was busy in the kitchen, finding cookies
and flower painted plates and tiny spoons
while I petted her cat, and read
the Saturday Review article she’d wanted me to see.
Next to the big dictionary on its own special table,
and her reading glasses on a long gold string,
fresh flowers from her garden
shaded the sun from Neruda’s poems.
Only the river’s quiet flow filled the house she had built by her own hand
until she came back, everything on a tray--
now we could finally talk.
Fifty years later, I open her spiritual diary
and sip orange spice tea in a delicate cup
waiting for the clock to strike the hour
and finally understand her.